Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Thanking Mr. David Gutierrez of the American Red Cross for His Brilliant Guest Lecture in My Humanitarian Logistics & Healthcare Class

Having expert practitioners speak to students and share their experiences and lessons from the field supports transformative education.

Last week, we had the honor and pleasure of hosting Mr. David Gutierrez of the American Red Cross (ARC) as a guest lecturer in my Humanitarian Logistics and Healthcare class at the Isenberg School of Management. Mr. Gutierrez was an outstanding Professor for a Day! The certificate was kindly signed by the Isenberg School Dean - Dr. Anne P. Massey.

The original date of his lecture was rescheduled because he had been intensively responding to the aftermath of the tornado in Rolling Fork, Mississippi.

Mr. David Gutierrez in the Senior Director of the National Incident Command Team of the American Red Cross. The National Incident Command Team was established about 1 year ago due to the unprecedented number of disasters. According to Mr. Gutierrez: "disasters have been nonstop." The ARC has been dealing with many challenges including climate displacement.

Mr. Gutierrez shared his "story" with us and his incredible career with the ARC, which continues. Professionally, he started out as a High School teacher and began volunteering with the ARC in 1992. Over more than three decades, he has served in various roles including: Health & Safety Director, AFES Station Manager, Chapter Executive, Chapter Operations Manager, State Relations Disaster Liaison, State Resource Office Coordinator, Emergency Services Director, State Disaster Officer, Division Disaster Director and Division Disaster Executive. In his current role as the Senior Director for the National Incident Command Team, he is responsible for initiating a Red Cross disaster response for level 5 disasters and higher. This includes oversight and direction of all activities related to disaster leadership development, disaster response training, partnerships with government and non-government agencies, and capacity building for the organization. An example of a  level 1 disaster is a house fire, that the ARC would also respond to.

He spoke about the 3Hs - Health, Hunger, and Housing, and how the ARC provides security to victims of disasters for up to 1 year. Many of those impacted by disasters are experiencing poverty and disasters create further stressors on the most vulnerable. The #1 priority of the National Incident Command Team is to respond. The other priority is to build capacity and to make sure that the workforce is trained. The students were very inspired and also amazed that 98% of the ARC workforce consists of volunteers! I very much appreciated that Mr. David Gutierrez noted the relevance of the logistics behind the workforce and in getting the workers to impacted areas in a timely manner. Sometimes there can be as many as 2,000 volunteers. The ARC pays for the travel expenses as well as the room and board. He discussed the specific case of Hurricane Ian and the impact on Tampa Bay, along with the response of the ARC.

Mr. Gutierrez has deployed to over 50 relief operations throughout his tenure with the Red Cross. He also serves as a National Disaster Relief Operation Job Director for the ARC. He served as the job director for Hurricane Ian, Hurricane Laura, Hurricane Ida, and Hurricane Harvey. In the role of job director, Mr. Gutierrez is responsible for leading a team of individuals who provide a range of clients with a comfortable, safe, welcoming environment by delivering mass care services, which include shelter, feeding, distribution of relief supplies, reunification, Disaster Health Services, Disaster Mental Health Services, Disaster Spiritual Care, Casework and Recovery Planning, and access to a host of services provided by partners in the community.

He emphasized the importance of needs assessment and in learning from previous disaster experiences. This reinforced what the students have learned from other guest speakers this semester, including Dr. George Karagiannis of Resilience First and Mr. Jeff Hescock of UMass Amherst! Lessons learned must be captured and shared. He also noted the necessity behind collaboration with partners; coordination with response partners, and also effective communication.

Mr. Gutierrez's dedication to the American Red Cross shone through his presentation  Along with his team,  he works to ensure timely, efficient disaster response efforts, ensuring that local community organizations and the Red Cross are coordinating and collaborating in order to efficiently and effectively meet community needs.

Mr. Gutierrez is a role model. His dedication, work ethic, kindness, and effectiveness are awe-inspiring. On behalf of my students, and all those that he and his team have helped, I send my deepest gratitude.